Easy Chicken Shawarma at Home Recipe (video)
There is a strong connection between food and memories. In fact, the moment a morsel of a new food hits your palate, you have already created a memory associated with that morsel and that moment in time, and embedded it in the brain alongside others. Food is a trigger of many of my happy memories; no wonder I turned chef LOL! Certain smells, sounds and flavours could easily teleport me back in time to that happy moment. This certainly happens whenever I smell shawarma, a typical street food of the Levant.
The aroma of the oils released from the spice blend and charred meat takes me back 30+ years to the time of my carefree childhood. I remanence the time my dad would take us kids to an area southwest of Damascus called Mazzeh Al-balad. Parking was always a nightmare, so we used to park far and walk through the old alleys trotting along the cobble streets prancing like horses, and excited to reach our final destination, Shawarma Al-Rabee. YES…shawarma. That area is famous for the endless stands of our beloved Syrian street foods, shawarma, falafel, foul, fatteh and more. The sight of that meat, whether chicken or lamb, piled up on a vertical spit tantalised our taste buds, while the aroma released each time the spit completed a rotation sent sparkles of anticipation in our eyes and salivation in our mouths. We had to patiently wait watching the shawarma chef pick up a loaf of flat bread, press it against the meat on the spit to soak up the juices bubbling to the surface, then quickly slice the outer layer off the spit once browned. He would then slightly char the bread with a light press on the electric coils of the shawarma grill, at which point we knew it won’t be long before we bit into our huge shawarma sandwich.
Chicken shawarma is always served with an aioli mayo (garlic mayo) and cucumber pickles, while lamb shawarma is always served with a tahini yogurt sauce and pickles. Now I don’t always crave shawarma, but when I do, I want to eat it right then and now. It is so easy to make at home, and I can get the same flavours with the same browning, and, above all, I can have it when I want it.
Shawarma spice mix:
- 1 tablespoon cardamom, powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, powder
- 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic, powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin, powder
- 1 tablespoon seven spice or garam masala, powder
- 1 tablespoon turmeric, powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves, powder
- Bay Leaf
- 2 egg yolks
- 3-4 minced garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 300 ml. vegetable oil
- Place the egg yolks, garlic, salt, lemon juice in a processor and blend drizzling the oil slowly until thickened. Place in the fridge and store for 10 days.
- 2 large skinless chicken breasts, sliced 1/2" thick
- 3 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- ½ tablespoon Himalayan salt
- 1 tablespoon shawarma spice mix
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Pita pockets
- Place the sliced chicken in a bowl. Add the minced garlic, bay leaf, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, shawarma spice mix and yogurt.
- Mix well, cover and leave in the fridge to marinade for a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 18 hours, otherwise the lemon will start to cook the chicken and you end up with a waxy texture.
- Heat a cast iron skillet and add the vegetable oil and sauté the marinated chicken until browned.
- Put enough shawarma in the pita pockets and drizzle with the aioli mayo then top with pickles.
- If you would like a vegan shawarma use shredded oyster mushrooms instead of the chicken and follow the dame steps.
- For a vegan aioli you can use the brine from canned chickpeas with salt, lemon and vegetable oil.
Per Serving: 428 Calories; 29g Fat (62.4% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 106mg Cholesterol; 1715mg Sodium.